Social cohesion and self-rated health: The moderating effect of neighborhood physical disorder

Eileen E S Bjornstrom, Margaret L Ralston, Danielle C Kuhl
American Journal of Community Psychology 2013, 52 (3): 302-12
Using data from the Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey and its companion datasets, we examined how neighborhood disorder, perceived danger and both individually perceived and contextually measured neighborhood social cohesion are associated with self-rated health. Results indicate that neighborhood disorder is negatively associated with health and the relationship is explained by perceived cohesion and danger, which are both also significant predictors of health. Further, individually perceived cohesion emerges as a more important explanation of self-rated health than neighborhood-level social cohesion. Finally, neighborhood disorder and perceived cohesion interact to influence health, such that cohesion is especially beneficial when residents live in neighborhoods characterized by low to moderate disorder; once disorder is at high levels, cohesion no longer offers protection against poor health. We interpret our findings as they relate to prior research on neighborhoods, psychosocial processes, and health, and discuss their implications for intervention efforts that address disorder in urban communities.

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